Meet Gracie and Luke, our six-year-old twins!
We waited for them forever and can't remember life without them.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Papa!

You made it to 39! Here's to many more years to come!


By the way, you really need to sit still for some new pictures!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1 week 4 days

In 1 week and 4 days, Gracie and Luke will be 2. I'm beside myself! How can this be possible?

My babies are definitely not babies any more and it is making me very sad. Crazily, I am also super happy for them that they are becoming more independent and doing things for themselves. They are so proud of themselves when they accomplish something without help.

Still, I'm finding that I long for these days...
Sleeping next to each other is heaven

Well, maybe not the crying, the being up all night, and the explosion diapers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Changes

In October of last year, Gracie and Luke started attending day care at the child development center where Daddy was going to community college. At first, they did not care for it. Frankly, I wasn't excited about it either. I would have rather they stay home with Daddy or me. But, given that Daddy needed to go to class and he could not take care of 14 month-olds by himself, it was an acceptable alternative.

Throughout the aftermath of the fire, Daddy's extended stay in the hospital, and my teaching summer school, Gracie and Luke still attended the day care. There were several things that bothered me about some of the people there, but overall, Gracie and Luke were well cared for and were thriving. While it was not my ideal, it was a safe place for Gracie and Luke to grow and learn and we could afford it.

A few weeks ago, we received a letter from them telling us Gracie and Luke could not return. In light of the new State budget cuts, we no longer fit the program. At first, I panicked. What were we going to do? Daddy is still recovering and Gracie and Luke would go insane if they were kept inside or in our yard five days a week. Then, we realized that this was an opportunity for us to look for a new place for Gracie and Luke to play with friends and learn new things.

Don't get me wrong. I've written many times about how I wish I could stay at home. I also wish that Daddy or another family member close by were in a position to be their primary caregiver. That's just not in the cards for us. As an alternative, we need to find a place that will allow Gracie and Luke to be 2 year-olds: play, learn, and grow.

We researched a couple of places and quickly realized that having two 2 year-olds in day care is very expensive. Most places want to charge $750 per child per month. At that rate, we would not be able to afford our electricity, gas, water or groceries. Then, yesterday, Daddy happened to be paying attention while he was driving and saw something we have been looking at for 20+ years and never noticed: a Montessori school around the corner from Grandma and Grandpa's house.

In grad school, I studied Dr. Maria Montessori's educational plan and remembered it as being something positive for very young children. I went online to learn more about this particular school and found that they have been faithful to Dr. Montessori's teachings for over 20 years. Daddy went to visit the school today and found that it is indeed a wonderful place.

So, beginning a few days after their 2nd birthday, Gracie and Luke will have a new school with new friends and new experiences. The nice part? Daddy will be able to take them to Grandma and Grandpa's house in the morning for breakfast and getting dressed. Then, he and Grandma will walk them to school together.

I'm actually excited for them. The school looks like a very fun place to learn and be 2. Now, if only I could find a fun place for me to be 37.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Icy creamy, icy creamy! What a treat!

Today, Gracie, Luke and I played outside, drew with sidewalk chalk on my car (okay, that wasn't me), sprayed water on every inch of the porch, swing set and each other, and ate ice cream cones when Daddy got home.

I caught some pictures of our activities today. My favorite: Dorito Face (which quickly turned into dirt and Dorito Face)


Spray bottles can be very useful.

None of Lukie's shorts stay on.
Most of the day, he runs around in a diaper and a shirt.
(Yes, I am that mom.)


After their nap, we played a ton and then came in to watch the "elphant" movie: Horton Hears a Who. Lukie was so into the movie that he did not move from this position...
...unless the Whos were on. He doesn't care for them much.


After dinner with Daddy, we decided to have an ice cream treat on the porch. I sang the Barney "Icy Creamy" song while I made their small ice cream cones. They loved them. Of course, they started at their table and then started to wander.

I'm still not sure how the ice cream on Lukie's forehead got there.

Where's your ice cream, Lukie?

After a while, Lukie grew bored with his ice cream and gave it to Gracie.
Three guesses who finished her own ice cream and her brothers!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hats!

Gracie and Luke don't like hats. The longest I've been able to get them to keep the hats on their heads was about 3 minutes. However, since their visit to the beach, hats seem to be cool.





Oh, good gravy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gracie Lu Who's Ears

2 posts in one day! What's the world coming to?! But, I couldn't let the day end without coming and making sure to chronicle this day in Gracie's life.

Gracie had her first ear infection at only 4 weeks old. Four weeks old?! Seriously. And that was only the beginning of 2 years of almost monthly ear infections. The first year, you knew when Gracie had an ear infection. She cried and hollered and was generally unhappy. By the beginning of her second year, it was as if she had accepted the fact that she was going to have to live with recurring ear infections. She gave up fighting the doctors who looked in her ears and I was always stunned when they told me she had an ear infection (as if the cloudy green goo coming out of her nose wasn't clue enough). In a way, it made me terribly sad that my little girl had learned to live with pain, of all things.

In March, Dr. A threw in the towel and decided to refer us to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. At that point, Gracie had had 6 ear infections in 6 months and had a double ear infection. Dr. A knew that if we let Gracie go much longer, she might start losing her hearing, much like happened to me when I was a toddler. Gracie's situation was made more frustrating by her allergy to the Cillian Family of antibiotics.

Dr. A referred me to Dr. B (I'm not being alphabetical, his last name really starts with a B) and it took me 3 months to get an appointment. We met him at the end of June. Gracie had just finished a 21 day antibiotic series for an ear and sinus infection. When he looked in her ears, the infection was still there. He immediately recommended ear tubes and sent off a referral.

This morning, I woke Gracie up at 5:45 am and drove her to the out patient surgery at Huntington Hospital. Somehow, having our routine differ confused the little Whoville, who a) forgot she always asks for a cracker before she says "hi" to me in the morning, and b) was giggling every time she looked at me. She was hysterical. She giggled and talked and played as we waited to be called in. She was totally at ease while we waited the 45 minutes before her surgery. She even played with a little boy, named Brandon, who at 6 months older that Gracie, was also there for ear tubes. They were adorable together!

They took Gracie and me into the pre-op room and while I answered the nurse's questions, Gracie pilfered items from the nurse's pockets and used her pen to color all over the surgery paperwork. Luckily, she did not color over anything important and the nurse was very patient with her. Before I knew it, they took my Whoville from me and she went back to have her tubes put in. The only things she had with her to keep her comfortable were her Winnie the Pooh jammies, her binky, and her puppy dog that Nana bought for her.

I went back out to the lobby to wait and, I'm not kidding, less than 15 minutes later, they told me to go back. She was already done. I did not make it to the first door before I heard an all too familiar sound: Gracie Lu Who in full tantrum. The anesthesiologist had warned me that Gracie would be disoriented and would be very angry when she first woke up. I don't think the nurses realized what disorientation would do to Gracie. She screamed and thrashed around, spit out her binky and cried for it to come back. I held her and whispered to her and replaced her binky about 20 times. Dr. B came by and told me that when he went in to do the surgery, Gracie had puss on her ear drums (we just finished our latest round of antibiotics on Friday). He still inserted the ear tubes, but prescribed ear drops to kill the infection. After about 15 minutes, the nurse shoved encouraged us to head out to our car, suggesting that Gracie might be more comfortable in familiar surroundings.

I held her, wrapped in her favorite blanket, and carried her to the car. She continued to cry and thrash around until I was able to get her into her car seat. That part was not fun. I finally got us on the road and turned on her Barney CD. By the time we got on the freeway, all sound from the back seat had ceased. When I looked in my rear view mirror, she was passed out, her head hanging forward.

She stayed asleep for 40 minutes while I drove around. Eventually, we stopped at Target to get her prescription filled (thanks, Target, for not having your pharmacy open at 9:30 am!). When I got her out of the car, she was still asleep, but by the time I put her in her stroller, she was wide awake and giggling again. And who does she ask for? Does she say "Momma!" to me? No! She asks for "Papa" and "Uckie." She then proceeded to giggle through our entire trip in the store!

After we were done, we came home and got her dressed. Because she wasn't supposed to play outside, I kept her with me today instead of letting her go to Grandma and Grandpa's house. She was very hungry, so we went out to breakfast, where she ate exactly 2 pieces of bacon and drank half a cup of chocolate milk. That's it. She kills me!

After that we headed home and kept everything calm. She watched every Barney movie known to mankind and finally passed out around 4:30 for a nap. Two hours later, it was more Barney until Daddy and Lukie arrived home.

Most of this may seem pretty boring, but to me it was a miracle. The nurses kept telling me that she would be crazy all day and she just wasn't. But the biggest miracle was this evening when we had to put the ear drops in her ears. Rather than just hold her down and put them in her ears, I showed her the bottle and demonstrated putting drops in my ears. I told her the drops would make her ears feel better and asked her to lay down. She did it without a fuss and stayed perfectly still while I put the required number of drops in each ear, followed by the requisite cotton ball. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I don't have a single picture of today. Primarily, because I can't find my camera to save my life. But also because today wasn't about pictures. It was about Gracie and helping her recover from a scary experience. She isn't even 2 and handled today beautifully. I'm so proud of my baby girl! She is already proving to be very brave!

We'll just forget how she is afraid to watch the part in Barney's Big Adventure where the boy steps in the poop, and how she crowds up next to me because it scares her.

Yeah. We'll just forget about that.

First Beach Trip Ever!

Last weekend (no, not yesterday), Daddy and I were both sick and needed to rest. Gracie and Luke, however, were fit as fiddles and ready to play. To keep from going insane, Daddy asked Abue Rosi if Gracie and Luke could come over and play a little. Grandma said, Yes!, and she had a surprise for Gracie and Luke.

Abue Rosi decided to take Gracie and Luke to the beach!

Now, we've never taken Gracie and Luke to the beach. I have issues with the sewage in the water and the new studies that say the sand is so contaminated that you are several times more likely to come home with stomach illnesses. There is nothing exciting about the beach any more. Blech!

But Abue Rosi decided that she would take them to Malibu, many miles north of the run-off and other drains. She and Abue Juve packed Gracie and Lukie up and off they went!

Gracie and Luke loved the sand. The water was way too cold for them, but there was enough sand to keep them occupied for several hours.




One Twinsie buried in the sand.

Wait! When does it get to be my turn?

She looks way too comfortable for an almost 2 year old.

Another Twinsie buried in the sand.

Two Twinsies buried in the sand.

Then, Abue Rosi got into the act.
I think this is when people started thinking "nap."


I'd say she looks done. Wouldn't you?

It took 2 baths to get all of the sand out of Gracie and Luke's hair. That doesn't matter, though. They had a blast at the beach!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Definitely for the Bad Parents Files

From the beginning of time, adults have used the fact that they know more about things to manipulate children. It is easy to convince children of things if they don't have a clue about reality. For example,

"Oh, no, Gracie, we can't go see the cows. They're sleeping."
"Oh, no, Lukie, don't go over there! There's poo-poo! Look out!" (Of course, there's no poop anywhere.)
"Oh, no! Gracie, come here fast! There's a spider right there!"

There must be a special place for parents who use this kind of manipulation on their children. A special place in a very hot environment.

Usually, these things are pretty harmless. However, when you start using your children's fears against them, that's plain mean. Take, for example, my son's sudden unreasonable fear of the pool vacuum at Aunt Bec's house. At first, he really didn't know what it was, but was just a little worried because it was so close to us. I made the mistake of giving it a name. "Oh, Lukie, don't worry! That's just the Nu Nu! Nu Nus only eat dirt and rocks, not little boys."

Um. Yeah. Do you see where this is going?

Giving a name to an object, especially a name that your almost 2 year-old can actually say, is just not the smartest thing to do in the world. Now, when Lukie sees the vacuum coming, heck, even if it isn't coming toward us, he starts yelling, "Nu Nu! Nu Nu!" He grabs hold of me tightly and will not let go. Sadly, if he even sees the Nu Nu in the water, he won't get in. He is absolutely terrified of the thing. It makes pool time less than fun.

Lukie's terror of the Nu Nu is a very dangerous thing. He is so afraid of it that he thinks it exists outside of the pool. He sees any large machine that makes a big sound (and does not resemble a truck) and will run straight for me shouting, "Nu Nu!" His terror of the Nu Nu is also very tempting.

You see, when Lukie won't come to me, all I have to say is "Lukie! Oh, no! It's the Nu Nu! Come here! Fast!" and whoosh! He's right next to me, eyes searching the horizon for the Nu Nu. When he throws rocks at our air conditioner out back, "Lukie! Oh, no! That's the Nu Nu! It's going to get you! Come on! Mommy will protect you!"

See? There's a special place in that very hot locale waiting for me. Well, it's waiting for Daddy and me because he is just as guilty as I am.

I'll admit. The Nu Nu got me thinking. What if I told Gracie and Luke there was chicken in their teeth and they needed my help brushing to get it out? I could tell them there were crackers and ice cream and apples in their teeth and I might actually get to brush their teeth without a fight. So, I tried it.

And it worked.

Lukie now walks around saying, "Teeth! Ucken, Momma. Ucken. Crackas. Teeth, Momma!"

Great. Now he's obsessed with his teeth.

Like I said, a special place down south waiting for us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something to get excited about

If you are ever at our house when Gracie and Luke wake up, you need to be in position to watch the run from their bedroom to the living room. There are 3 things they want in the morning: a "cracka", "mwilk", and "Bahney." The run is made while they shout these three words in no particular order.

Once we get our cracker and milk (and sometimes raisins), we sit down to watch an episode (carefully Tivoed) of Barney. We have 11 or so saved to the DVR, but their favorite is the episode when a petting farm comes to the park. Usually, they say "Cow! E-O, E-O!" This makes sense because they sing Old MacDonald had a farm.




Normally, we reserve Barney only for the morning, but this afternoon, our nap time did not go well. After we played outside for 2 hours (I'm still stunned by that!), Gracie started asking about Barney and the "poo-poo." Now, if you haven't seen Barney's movie, you would have no clue what she's talking about. But if you have, you know that one of the kids in the movie steps in cow poop at one point. For some reason, our children are fixated on that scene!

Before the movie started, I caught the following:



Aren't they hysterically cute?!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In LOVE with Baby Emerson

Baby Cousin Emerson was born in May. She's Auntie Ten Ten's baby girl and Gracie and Luke are obsessed with her. Auntie Ten Ten lets them hold her while they sit on the couch (with a Bobby pillow on their laps). She lets them kiss the baby and give her love. As a result, all they want to do is hold Baby Emerson when they get the chance.

See? Here they are smothering Baby Emerson in an attempt to lavish her with kisses!

Nathan and Lukie giving Emerson love!

Gracie going in to plant a kiss on Emerson.

Jeez! Give the baby some air, will ya?

By the way, it should be known that I "borrowed" these from Auntie Ten Ten's Facebook page. I hope that's okay with you, Ten Ten!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bright Ideas

When we were in Modesto, Caryn took us out for ice cream. Thinking my best bet at not losing the ice cream was by having it served in cups, I had Gracie and Luke served their Cabana Banana ice cream in the cute cups and given pink spoons. They did well with them, but grew bored rather quickly.

Caryn, on the other hand, had all of her kids served ice cream in cones! You can only imagine my awe watching her hand her twins (about two weeks younger than Gracie and Luke) their own cones. She, wisely, had them served less ice cream, but the twins were able to eat their own ice cream, just like the big kids. It got me thinking that I have been isolating Gracie and Luke too much. In my effort to keep them clean (and thus, the area surrounding them clean), I'm keeping them from learning how to be a big kid.

So, when we went to Auntie Ten Ten's house yesterday, I bought some Drumstick ice cream cones and brought them to share with everyone. While they were in their swimsuits (and trapped outside), I gave each of them a vanilla cone and sat back to watch what would happen. At first, they weren't sure what to do with them, so I broke out an ice cream cone for myself and demonstrated. It took awhile for them to break through the chocolate, but once they did, they were very happy! They wandered around, eating ice cream and chatting to one another and others around them, showing off their ice cream cones.

Eventually, the ice cream began to melt and that is when I caught these:





Auntie Ten Ten told me to just dunk them in the pool. When I hesitated, she did it for me! I still ended up giving them a bath. By the time they were done snacking, they had watermelon juice, cantaloupe juice, melon juice, and Doritos dust all over them. I'm very glad I let them have their own cones. They really enjoyed the independence.

Note to self: They don't understand that you can eat the cones. Next time, let's stick to Popsicles!

And just for fun, look at how big Baby Emerson is getting! She's the spitting image of her Mommy. Hard to believe she is only 10 weeks old.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vacationing in Modesto

Hawaii. Paris. Spain. Millions of people travel outside of California for vacations. None of them, not a single one, realize that an exotic locale exists in the northern half of California.

Where you ask?

Why, Modesto!

Modesto is in Stanislaus County off of Highway 99. It is a lovely, clean city surrounded by farms. What makes Modesto so much fun and the ideal vacation spot is that it is home to Caryn's family and, most importantly to Gracie and Luke, their Friends: Ty, Wes, Lyv, Ysa, and Layla!

We were so excited to visit Caryn's family and to be able to spend an entire weekend playing with them. On Saturday, we were even more excited to meet Janie's family at Caryn's house. It was absolute Twindamonium!



Janie, Caryn, and Mommy

We had this amazing pork tenderloin with arugula and grilled peaches. As usual, Gracie and Luke ate more off of my plate than their own. We had a great time playing with friends.







On Sunday, we went with our friends to the Stanislaus County Fair. There we found more cows (clean ones), pigs, sheep, goats, and other animals than we could count. We spent most of our visit saying, "HI!" to the animals.













After the animals, we had lunch and walked around to scope out the rides. Gracie and Luke wanted to ride the carousel, but once we got on and it started to move, Gracie wasn't so sure that is where she wanted to be.





After the Fair, we went back to Caryn's Family's house and had leftovers for dinner. Gracie and Luke ran around while I talked with Caryn and her parents. Daddy hung out with Bryan, Caryn's husband.

The next day, we had plans to go to Story Time at the local library with Caryn and the friends, but Gracie woke up sick. So sick was little miss Gracie, that she took a 3 hour nap! Unheard of at our house!


After lots of sleep and some Motrin, Gracie felt a lot better. She and Lukie had a pillow fight with Daddy, we took a drive to buy some HUGE peaches, and we went to a park to play a little. It was a nice quiet day. We ended the day having ice cream with Caryn and the Friends!


So if you haven't made your travel plans yet, consider Modesto. Enjoy the cows, the really nice people, the plethora of drive-thru Starbucks, and Sonic Drive-Ins. If you plan to travel this week, you can visit the Stanislaus County Fair, too!